WELL, what more can one say? It was a catastrophic result by any scale used. Not the sort of thing that Zimbabwe cricket needs at this moment. Indeed, no one dreams of this happening at any ot
When everything look-ed all patched up, and everyone was geared up to forget the past and move forward, the innings and 294-run hammering by New Zealand last week kind of disrupts the patching up of the Zimbabwe team that was made in the past two months.
Yes, the rebuilt Zimbabwe side was not the favoured team to win the first Test match against a stronger and more experienced New Zealand outfit, but even by their own standards, the horrendous display by Zimbabwe, the first time in over half-a-century that a team has been bowled out twice in a day, left a bitter taste in the mouths of supporters of local cricket, and had customary apologists of the team asking what went wrong?
But only now that question must not be an empty one. It is one question that begs an immediate answer, especially with a conviction that all players chosen to play for the Zimbabwe national cricket team comprehend the national pride at stake when representing their country, and besides, the admission by all quarters that the pre-series preparations and the match conditions and mood were conducive for the team to play.
We are tempted to look elsewhere for answers and that must be within the team itself this time round.
Clearly, the Zimbabwe players just were not psyched-up. The bowlers were constantly erratic and strayed in precision and the batsmen were dismal in their technical inadequacy that even the New Zealanders were left bemused by the little resistance on offer.
Before the match, New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming had stressed at the pre-match news conference how he keeps in mind the tough competition from previous Zimbabwe sides he has played against in his career. And that Fleming said this with the knowledge that Zimbabwe had not beaten the Black Caps in any previous meetings since Zimbabwe’s attainment of Test status in 1992 shows how Zimbabwe’s tradition of competitiveness is respected in the cricket world. But that has to be maintained.
The most depressing part of it was that Zimbabwe’s defeat was self-inflicted. It was suspect footwork and wrong shot selection that led to the two low scores inside a day as the batsmen failed to contain the twin threat of pace bowlers Shane Bond and James Franklin.
Conditions at Harare Sports Club were up to the occasion and Queens Sports Club is expected to be well prepared and ready too. New Zealand enjoyed the advantage of batting first at Harare Sports Club when the pitch was lively and offered good bounce which meant the ball came on to the bat much quicker. So it needed the bowlers to bowl a fuller length, and at least that has to be in the bowlers’ minds for the Bulawayo Test.
Hamilton Masakadza stood firm with 42 runs in the second innings, and could be an important player for Zimbabwe in the series. If the senior players give him support, Zimbabwe could repair the damage in the batting order badly exposed in the Harare.
Neil Ferreira, who opened the batting for Zimbabwe on his Test debut, looked promising early on, and will settle down if he manages to get runs in the second match.
Pace bowler Andy Blignaut, who sat out the first Test, may be fit for Bulawayo, a boost for the bowling attack that had Heath Streak as the only experienced bowler. The young seamers, Blessing Mahwire and Chris Mpofu, need a lot of encouragement, and will have to bowl with experience at the other end.
Zimbabwe need to rise from the deck and take to the field again.